“In the labyrinth of invisible pathways”: Tropes of Aboriginal Australia in Bruce Chatwin’s The Songlines

Author(s): 

Ágnes Balajthy

Journal of the European Association for Studies of Australia (JEASA), Vol.6 No.1, 2015.

 

Ágnes Balajthy

“In the labyrinth of invisible pathways”: Tropes of Aboriginal Australia in Bruce Chatwin’s The Songlines

 

Abstract: This article reexamines the construction of Aboriginal Australia in Bruce Chatwin's The Songlines. It explores the ways in which this postmodernist travelogue transforms certain patterns of the literary representation of the Central Australian desert, re-inventing and re-contextualizing the 19th century topos of the unmappable land. The analysis of the figurative language of the novel focuses on its master tropes, the map and the labyrinth, suggesting that they both reflect the traveller's inclination to appropriate the  Aboriginal worldview and at the same time symbolize the landscape's (and its inhabitants') resistance to being appropriated.

 

Keywords: travel writing; cartography; cultural otherness; Aborigines; labyrinth; map

 

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Copyright © Ágnes Balajthy 2015. This text may be archived and redistributed both in electronic form and in hard copy, provided that the author and journal are properly cited and no fee is charged.

 

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